Nominate a Deserving Mom

It is nearing Christmas time again, which means I am hosting my third annual “nominate a deserving mom” award.  I will be selecting 3 moms who will each receive $500 cash.  I will also pick two others who will receive $250 worth of products or services.

First click here to check out last year and the types of stories that were submitted.  Click here to check out the winners of last year and how people helped others.

This is my third year doing this and I would like to mention again from last year, I am not a big fan of public giving and believe it should mostly be done anonymously.  But once a year I do this in hopes of challenging you to give over the holiday season, whether it is your time, advice, stuff, or money.  I also want to find the most deserving moms for this money to help them end 2010 a little happier and I hope some of the stories touch you enough to give.  Last year we had someone read one of the stories and give $500 to the woman.  Another person bought a woman 2 months worth of bootcamp.

Some of you might have missed the interview I did about 9 months ago with one of the winners.  If this story doesn’t inspire you, I don’t know what will.

Here are the rules:

1. Entries must be submitted in the comment box below.  Tell why the mom you are nominating deserves the money, and what she might do with it.  It doesn’t have to have a fitness or health theme to be chosen, but it does help.

2. Contest ends Thurs Dec 23rd at Midnight CST.

3. All stories must be true and will be verified if selected as one of the winners.

4. You can’t nominate yourself.

5. Please share this with as many people as possible in order for me to find the most deserving moms.

6. Please be reading the stories and if one really moves you and you want to give, email me at and I can get you in contact with the person.

How You Can Help

1.  Spread the word about this contest as best you can.  Post on your facebook wall, and send a mass facebook message to all your friends letting them know that they can nominate a mom for $500.  Using a subject line such as “Do you know a mom who could use an extra $500 around the holidays?  My trainer is looking for 3 deserving moms to give $500 each to.”  Here is the link to this blog post which is where you will send them. ->

2.  Send an email out to your list letting them know the same thing that you posted on facebook with the link above in the email.

3.  Submit a story of a deserving mom.

4.  Read through the nominations and email me at and let me know if a story really touches you and you want to do something special for them.

5.  Have open hearts this Christmas season and go out of your way to help others.


  1. I would like to nominate Kim Koetz as your deserving mom. A mother of seven kids, Kim is still one of them most giving women I know. On top of juggling her kids active schedules, she still takes the time to set an example of healthy eating and exercise.

    Facilitating bringing Dustin to the Casselton area for a boot camp, and for giving her time each week to two different groups in leading workouts, Kim is inspiring other moms to get fit.

  2. Hey guys,
    I would really like to nominate Debi Brady. I met Debi while her son and daughter in law were planning their wedding in which we had been hired to photograph. I knew her son previously and considering the person that he was, I knew Debi could be nothing short of great. Through their wedding and beyond I have seen nothing but compassion and strength from Debi. This was never more apparent than 4 months after the wedding. 1 week ago Debi’s son, my friend Michael, Passed away unexpectedly. He left behind a crushed mother and a widow who only got to be his bride for 4 short months.

    What I have seen from Debi in feats of courage and strength through this terrible time are amazing. She is there for his widow. She has been a rock for all of us mourning the loss of our friend. The man he grew to be at 25 was apparent by the amazing turn out at his funeral. The person Mike became was in no short way a direct correlation of the amazing parents he had.

    I know that if she is granted this award she will absolutely use it in a way that her late son would be proud of. He was a compassionate musician and animal lover and she is a great proponent of those qualities in him. The memorial service donations were made to a local animal shelter and I see this money being used in the same sort of way.

    Their family has been through so much this holiday season, I just see this as another necessary way that I can help to show them the appreciation and love they are in such desperate need of right now.

    Thanks for reading, I learned one thing extremely strongly from this entire experience that I can share with anyone who reads this.
    Keep your loved ones so close.

    Thank you.

    I know that given this money she would pass it on in a way

  3. Pamela Dietrich says

    I nominate Pam Dietrich for the deserving mom award. She is mom to Aidan- who is 1 year old and step-mom to Erik and Ryan. Pam is an amazing mom and is also an amazing person. I have known her since I was 13 years old and it is my honor to have her as a friend. She is someone who I can count on and she is one of the strongest and most resilient people I know.
    A few years ago I got a call that shook my foundation- Pam’s husband Dave called to tell me that Pam had been diagnosed with Breast Cancer at the age of 35. She had a small lump that the doctors originally thought was nothing, that ended up being cancer. She had only been married a short time and instead of enjoying the honeymoon period she had to undergo a mastectomy, chemotherapy, and reconstructive surgery. A very long process where she went through pain, the inability to work, the loss of her hair…the list could go on and on. She made it through all of this and is thankfully cancer free. Pam did not have any children at that time and they told her she might not be able to now because of the chemotherapy but again thankfully she was able to have a beautiful son Aidan who is now one and is the joy of her life. Pam is a wonderful person who is deserving of this award. Thank you for reading Dustin and for your generosity!!!

  4. Stuart Ritzert says

    I would love to nominate my wife Cindy Ritzert as a deserving mom. I have been blessed with a wonderful wife and wonderful mother of our children.

    Cindy had our son almost 22 months ago after three miscarriages! She has been trying to get back into fitness and training, but has not had the time nor any extra money. Bootcamp classes and changes in diet can often be expensive! I feel like part is my fault because I coach a high school sport and often times me getting home later, doesn’t allow her the opportunity to be more active.

    Cindy always thinks of EVERYONE else other than herself first. It would be nice if you could win something like this to really get her new years started in the right direction! Not to mention force me to take on more responsibilities and allow her more freedom to persue her fitness aspirations.

    She has made the comment she would like to take a fitness boatcamp, this money would provide the opporunity with no extra cost to our family, it could also be used towards her nutritinoal needs as well. I honestly cannot think of a more deserving mother. I hope she is considered for this award!


    Stuart R. Ritzert

  5. Jenny Holle says

    Oops…I nominated Pam Dietrich. She didn’t nominate herself 🙂

  6. I would like to nominate Donna DeGraw Taylor she is my aunt but she helped take care of me she’s the best she’s always there when u need her back in may2010 she lost her husband to cancer she took care of him for the last 12 years he was really sick and recently shes been taking care of her grandaughter who is 10 shes been having lots of problems and she deserves a break i think it would be great if she could get some help for this year.

  7. Mother of two, Deanna has raised her kids by herself for most of their lives.She took a job as food server at a local school so she could be with her kids whenever they were at home. She’s a very health conscious Mom and tries to keep her kids thinking that way. Her son is now 21 and works a job, hoping someday to work with computers.Her daughter is 17 and a senior in high school. Both kids have kept themselves out of trouble and attend church regularly. Deanna is there for them whatever the need. I don’t know where she gets all her strength. She recently comminted to helping me several hours a week, as I have primary lateral sclerosis and am less able to acomplish normal household chores. Don’t know what I’d do without her. She probably would not tell but her X has been imprisoned for most of the kids lives and hasn’t helped support them much at all. She also works at her church as secretary part-time and if there’s any volunteer work to be done, you can bet,if she can, she’ll be there. That’s my daughter!

  8. Pam Dietrich says

    I would like to nominate my friend Jenny. She is truly an inspiration. She is always doing and giving to others. She is a mom of three. Her eldest son Quentin was born with Cystic Fibrosis. Her middle child Ariel was recently diagnosed with Turner’s Syndrome. Her youngest Nate has been healthy. Thank God. She is always busy with her family but she always finds time volunteer and to give to others. She is my go to mom for motherly advice. She is the one that told me to try Fit Mom’s For Life. She is a giving and deserving mom for so many reason’s. She would probably give some of the money to somone in need and than do something fun with her family with the rest.

  9. Lynette Schiek Rauwolf says

    I would like to nominate Diane Adam for this award. Diane is the head lunch lady at my kids school, St. Maria Goretti. Whenever I work lunch duty I admire how caring and kid she is to all the students. Students will run up to her and just get a hug from her or talk to her about something. She’s had a really tough year with challenges from her daughter, a father who is suffering from dementia and now her mother found out she has bladder cancer. Her mother is the care taker of her sick father. To top it off, her husband has a tough couple of years owning his own tile company. The poor economy has really affected them and their business. They are great, kind, awesome people who it seems one thing after keeps piling up on them. I keep telling her to keep the faith and trust in God, but an extra 500.00 may just help with the Christmas gifts this year, or pay a past due bill. More importantly it may really help her to trust more in God and how He will continue to provide in different ways. I know Diane is well deserving of this money and reward, because it is in giving to others that we receive. She gives and gives and gives AND now it’s time to receive. Thanks for picking Diane Adam for this award!
    Lynette Schiek Rauwolf

  10. Dustin,

    Without a doubt my sister Jenny Belter would be the best fit for this. If she does not win it is because she does not want the attention, is way humble, or did not explain in detail the obstacles she has overcome. I know that she will give the money away, use it for boot camps with you, or spend it on her kids. She has overcame more obstacles then most moms will in their entire life (It is true) and I am so proud of her for what she has accomplished. More so I am happy for her success but wished I could have gotten her my boot camps in Waukesha because I knew she would have amazing success.

  11. Yvonn Wilder says

    I would like to nominate my fellow stay-at-home-mom and friend, Kathleen. She is a mom of 8 children and irrepressibly optimistic, in spite of all the challenges she faces. She and her youngest children moved to Madison from Illinois about a year ago so that her seriously ill child could be close to Madison’s pediatric medical facilities. Recently, this child recently received the gift of a companion dog but now even the dog has been suffered a medical setback and faces an uncertain prognosis! Kathleen’s husband still works his job back in Illinois, making the trip to Madison when he can, and stays in their unsold house there, which has been on the market for sale for 13 months. But, despite the worries of two mortgages, sick children and medical ailments of her own, Kathleen always maintains a smile and an upbeat attitude. Although I don’t think her health would allow her to participate in a boot camp, I do know that her family could put the $500 to very good use. Kathleen is an inspiring person and truly deserves a special holiday surprise!

  12. Nicole Hankins says

    I am nominating my mom, Kari Hankins. She would use the money to see a nutritionist and to buy supplies for the Wauna–Help program that she is working on starting at the Waunakee Village Center. She is a great mom to me and my sister. She is very health conscience and is always trying to find delicious ways to get my sister, my dad, and me to eat healthy food. My mom has gotten me into cooked asparagus with garlic and my sister into broccoli and salads. She has always been there when we needed her, and always gives us tough love when we need it. She and I have shared strep throat quite a few times and the entire time she kept a smile on her face, while also making sure that both of us had our medicine. I don’t know anyone with more perseverance then my mom. She has spent many evenings with me or my sister at our basketball team practices and games and now she is coaching my sister’s basketball team.

  13. Monica Anderson says

    Dear Dustin –

    I could hardly believe it when I opened your email and learned of your “Deserving Mom” giveaway tonight. I must nominate one of my great friends, Jamie.

    The story is very long and almost unbelieving what my friend, a mother of 4, has been through. It starts when we were 19 (12 years ago) when Jamie got pregnant with a man who she had only known briefly. The story was pretty predictable of Jamie becoming a single mom, who not for a moment didn’t stand strong and give everything she had to her little boy.

    A few months into being a new mom, a guy she had gone out with a few times prior to her pregnancy contacted her and asked her to go out. She is now married to him and they had three lovely girls, each about a year apart. They also made an adoption official of Jamie’s son ensuring a complete family.

    All of this has come with some really hard times. When Jamie was pregnant with her fourth child – he mother was also diagnosed with brain cancer. I am not sure how to better say it than her mom was her rock. Jamie delivered her third daughter as her mother was declining in a different hospital and she was not completely aware that it was close to the end for her mom. She literally left the hospital after giving birth to go to the other hospital to make plans for her mom (now unresponsive) to Hospice. I was able to be with her family that week – absolutely heart breaking as Jamie carried her newborn around as she had to say good-bye to her mom. Her mother passed away one week from the day she gave birth and Jamie’s world has just not been the same.

    Her tragedy doesn’t stop there – in the last four years she cared for and lost a grandfather, a daughter has been diagnosed with Q22 deletion, the family survived a house fire that was a total loss and she is currently helping her father care for her stepmother who at a young age as a very serious and rapid case of dementia.

    Why your email is ironic, is that just last week I had a phone conversation with Jamie that she was pretty down – much of it being at a time she misses her mom the most. She shared with me they were selling their house to free up funds in hopes of her husband having to work less hours, her going back to school and being in town to be closer to the kids activities. She shared with me she cried when she saw the for sale sign in front of the house that day.

    The other part of the conversation is what I am hopeful you can help with. Jamie shared with me on the phone that she “needs help” because she has been feeling like she wants to be a hermit and not go out. She shared with me her weight is so bothersome to her she didn’t even want to eat in front of her daughter’s friends at school that past week.

    If you were to meet Jamie today, you would see a beautiful smile with eyes that have nothing to give but love. I believe you would also see a mom who needs a little break. I believe, whatever gift you were to choose to grant her, would give her the break I believe she deserves.

    I thank you for giving back to the community … I just took my two-year-old to buy gifts for a little girl who’s name we got off the community tree. I hope someday he understands the meaning of giving like you and I.

    Wishing you a happy holiday season –

  14. Lynette Schiek Rauwolf says

    I would like to nominate Rebecca Trudeau for this award. Becca and I have know each other since college in 1988. Since college we have become even closer friends and I cherish her friendship. The reason I would like to mominate her is because she has become one of those moms, especially this past year, who has put herself last on the list. 5 years ago her first child was born with a disability. It’s only been within the past few years that the diagnose has been made and she’s really struggling with having her son having the label of “cognitive disable”. He’s a precious, happy boy who knows the words and understands, but his brain doesn’t allow him to form the words. She dedicated these past years to taking him to and from therapy several days a week. This past year the reality hit Becca and she feels alone in the support from family. She’s a great mom, but just needs to believe more in herself rather than yearning for that pat on the back from others. I want to also mominate her because this year she gained a lot of weight due to the challenges of taking care of her family, disable son and thyroid and depression issues. She’s slowly getting back into the gym routine, but finds it really difficult since she’s without the energy and motivation with the extra weight. I would like her to win this reward, not only to dedicate this money towards a gym membership, but mostly to encourage her to love herself regardless of what others think. I would love to see her be able to heal from past wounds of the past and become all that God intended her to be.
    Thanks for choosing Becca Trudeau for this award!

  15. Brandi Gancarz says

    Hi Dustin! I am THRILLED to have the chance to nominate Sharon Fenneran as a deserving mom!! If I had to pick one word to describe her….I couldn’t…she is more than one word…she is an unstoppable force…I have never witnessed such strength from another human being as I have over the past year. Sharon married my great friend Patrick, who I met in college, and the three of us quickly became great friends while living in Atlanta at the same time. Sharon and Patrick eventually married and were soul mates in every sense of the phrase. In July of 2009, Patrick was diagnosed with leukemia…their story is chronicled here in Sharon’s own words…which demonstrates her strength, resilience and humor. If you read any blog post over the holidays, I ask you all to read this one-she is one amazing woman…and is part of one incredible community. Patrick lost his fight on June 6, 2010….the day after I returned to Madison from visiting him. My time with Patrick, Sharon and their two amazing children was LIFE CHANGING…every obstacle, every challenge, every clinic visit was met with a sense of humor and a smile…there is something to be said for that when your husband is dying. How is this possible in the face of such adversity? It is Sharon’s SPIRIT…her ESSENCE…it is WHO SHE IS and what she taught me during those few short days I spent with them can barely be expressed in words, but I think of her every day because she influences the choices I make, the attitude I have and how I treat other people both when things are good and, more importantly, when they are not good. Before Patrick was diagnosed, they had both made the decision to change their lives for the better and start living healthfully. Sharon hired a personal trainer and Patrick was biking miles and miles every day and together they shed the pounds. Over the year Patrick was sick, Sharon had essentially NO time for herself. I know this because I lived it for 4 days…up at 6a, to bed past midnight….a terminally sick husband with daily clinic visits (an hour drive each way and typically 4-8 hrs at the clinic) and two children to take care of the minute she walked in the door. This is not written for pity-Sharon would hate that. It is written to give you an image of what her daily life was like as a caretaker of everyone else FOR A YEAR. Patrick was the sole income for their household and now Sharon raising two children (yes, with the help of a loving, supportive, incredible family), but nonetheless as a single parent and no income. Finances are tight, Sharon is facing going back to work…and never have I heard a complaint. I know she would love to get back to the gym, to have some time for herself and her health, because she wants to live a healthy lifestyle and set an example for her children. So I am nominating her for this award because of how she chooses to live each day, because she is an amazing mom and so that just a tiny piece of all the goodness she has given this world can come back to her. I know Patrick would want this for her…so she could continue to take care of herself…so I’m stepping up and nominating her 🙂 Thank you for considering her-I know there are a lot of deserving moms out there!

  16. Brandi, I so agree with you, that everyone should take the time to read Sharon’s incredible journey!! And as one blogger wrote in response, this is the true spirit of the people of our wonderful country. Sooo true, “as you sow, so shall you reap”. When Dustin hopes that this giveaway will spark all of us to reach out to someone, somehow, no matter how much or how little we think we have to share……..well, Sharon’s story describes how this looks in one community in Georgia. God bless America!

  17. Brandi Gancarz says

    To Dustin’s Mom…you made my day! Thank you so much for reading her post-I agree wholeheartedly that “as you sow, so shall you reap”….her journey really is incredible. You must be one proud Mom yourself!! I hope you have a great holiday!!

  18. I would like to second the nomination of Sharon Fenneran, whom I have never met. However, I have been witness to the “ripple effect” of her positivity and perseverance…qualities that are grossly deficient in today’s “poor me” society and that deserve to be rewarded. Despite all of our individual challenges and setbacks, we each possess the capacity and the obligation to “pay it forward.” Thank you, Sharon, for inspiring me from afar…

  19. I would like to nominate my wife, Kari Hankins. She is always putting everyone else first before herself and her health is now showing it. She gets involved with the activities of our daughters to the point that she is ow a coach for a grade school basketball team in order to help more girls. She has been in the health care field over 20 years and when latex allergies stopped her from being a medical asst, she worked other positions in the hospital util she got her current position which is working with cancer patients and prostetics, stockings and clothing to make them feel better.

    Currently Kari has been working with the local village center to try to set up a health support group. Besides all this, she manages to keep our family on track, do all the cooking and housework.

    The problem with all this is she has not had time for herself, and her health has suffered. She has said that she would use the money to see a nutritionist and possibly buy supplies for the health group she is setting up and leading. I would also work on getting her to take the time to take fitness/health class with part of it.

  20. Joni Lownik says

    I would like to nominate my dear friend Vicki Teigen. She is a single mom raising her 12 year old son, Tate, who has special needs. Vicki receives nothing financially from Tate’s father. In addition, Tate’s father is rarely (often never) part of his life, which leaves Vicki to provide 24-7 care. Vicki’s parents are both deceased and she basically has little help when it comes to caring for Tate. What amazes me is the commitment Vicki has to her son. She devotes everything to him and his needs and does it with remarkable love and commitment. She is truly the most caring and loving mother I have ever met. However, between worrying about financial matters and total care for a special needs child, this can be all consuming, which Vicki is struggling with at this time. She cannot afford a babysitter, and despite rare help from a family member, I can see the toll this situation is taking on her. In recent years Vicki had Lyme’s Disease which flares up from time to time causing health issues. In addition, Vicki has struggled through a major illness and fought hard to beat it. She has also lost 20+ pounds in the last year trying to improve her health. Yet, Vicki is only able to work part-time. To her credit, in spite of only her part-time salary, she has made a great life for Tate. Vicki is amazingly frugal and even with the cost of Tate’s medication, she has raised Tate to realize that material things come and go, but love and family are truly what matters. I sincerely believe Vicki could use all the help we can give her and appreciate your consideration of her for this generous gift.


  1. […]  There were a handful of submissions that I didn’t pick, but wish I could have.  Click here to read all of the nomination. If you connect with one of the stories and would like to do something to help, please email me […]

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